Thursday, 6 May 2010

Armitage III: Poly-Matrix (2004)

This is kinda weird. Back in the day, I was a big fan of the Armitage III (pronounced Armitage The Third, not Armitage 3) OVA series, which was four episodes of colourful and fun cyberpunk action with a cool heroine, a bunch of insane robots and a ton of action. It was broadcast on cable TV and I was instantly hooked, as it had pretty much all of the ingredients that set my feverish mind into overdrive at the time. There was humour, cyborgs and cool characters galore, such as the titular Armitage character and the deliciously villainous Rene D'anclaude.

That 1997 series was cut together (and somewhat snipped) into a movie length piece in 2004. This was released under the name of Armitage III: Poly-Matrix. The film version had a different English dub too, featuring Elizabeth Berkley as Armitage and Kiefer Sutherland as her partner Ross Sylibus, which for the most part is great, but as a film it doesn't work as well as it did as four separate episodes.

It's not a case of the story or pacing suffering because of the edit, it's more a case of the story just not having quite enough time to progress naturally. Not a great deal was trimmed in order to create this film version, but you do notice the changes. That said, you'll probably only notice them if you were glued to the original version like I was.

How does it look? This version is clean and crisp, and the voice cast do an admiral job. The animation and the overall design of the tale has dated a little in its ideas of futurism (remember, there were seven years between the two versions), but I kinda prefer this vision of the future to the current CG-styled ideal in that is prevalent in many current anime series. The action is just as potent and exciting as it always was, and with the added bonus of Hollywood talent in the voice booths, Armitage III: Poly-Matrix turned out much better than it could have, but it's far from perfect.

I'd personally suggest you track down the original version (or at least the original English dub version of the series) for a more enjoyable experience. I love the look of the characters (I still think the design of the Armitage character herself is cool and iconic), the locale and the mechs, and the intrigue and twists of the plot mean there's more than action to take in. Now, I am going to go and dig out my Armitage III shirt so I can wear it with pride around town tomorrow. I think it's old enough to have become cool again by now ;)

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